428: Why Food and Mindset Are Critical To Success

Kathleen Gage And Ashley James


  • Inflammation was gone after going whole food plant-based
  • Benefits of going whole food plant-based on physical activities
  • What’s the quality of life you want?
  • Headaches disappeared after going whole food plant-based
  • Don’t believe everything at face value
  • Tips on how to start a podcast
  • How to get on other people’s podcast

How do you lose weight healthily while still eating a lot? A doctor told Kathleen Gage that she would need to lose weight or have a heart attack and stroke. She has tried many diets, but the best diet she's tried is going on a whole food plant-based diet. Since going plant-based, Kathleen has more energy to run and finish marathons, and she's not at risk of having a heart attack and stroke. Besides sharing her whole food plant-based journey, she also gives us tips on how to start a podcast and how to get on other people's podcasts.

Photo by Nutriciously on Unsplash


Hello, true health seeker and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. You're going to love today's interview with Kathleen Gage. She's giving away her program for you for free with a bunch of free goodies as well that she's put together. You can get everything that she's giving us, the Learn True Health listeners, by going to learntruehealth.com/powerup, that's learntruehealth.com/powerup.

I also want to make sure that you know about the Learn True Health Home Kitchen. If you're looking to increase the amounts of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes beans, and whole healthy greens in your diet if you want to increase the amount of nutrient density in your diet to stave off infection and disease, support your body's ability to heal itself, and maintain optimal health, then join the Learn True Health Home Kitchen. Just go to learntruehealth.com/homekitchen and check it out. Be sure to use the coupon code LTH for the listener discount.

So go to these two links today, one is learntruehealth.com/powerup for the free goodies that Kathleen Gage is giving you, and go to learntruehealth.com/homekitchen to get the free tour and check out the membership site that I created for you with all these wonderful recipes and healing information, so you can walk into the kitchen and use your kitchen to support your body's ability to heal itself. Delicious recipes that support you and your family in optimal health, learntruehealth.com/homekitchen.  I hope to see you there. Enjoy today's interview.

[00:01:47] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 428. I am so excited for today's guest. We have a really special guest. Kathleen Gage has been an inspiration to me for several years. Kathleen, I met you back in I want to say 2012 or 2013 back in Portland.

[00:02:15] Kathleen Gage: Yeah, it was quite a few years ago. I remember it well. It was at the old historic hotel. Drawing a blank on the name of it, but down in a lower room. Yeah, I remember it.

[00:02:29] Ashley James: It was really beautiful. Kathleen was leading a weekend workshop for entrepreneurs that was like a personal growth and mindset workshop, something you've done for many years. My husband and I really enjoyed it. We enjoyed connecting with all the wonderful people in your class and learning from you. Then afterward, we became Facebook friends, and I followed your journey. Your life has gone in a similar direction as mine has. It was really interesting to see what has transpired. I'm really excited for you to share your story today.

You have two platforms that are merging together. You teach people how to make their own podcasts, so entrepreneurs but also holistic health professionals, health coaches. You teach how to make a podcast that, how to market your podcast, and how to grow it so that you can get more clients, you can educate, and help. You can really help people because I know that your entire mission is about helping people. Then you have this other platform based on what's happened in your life the last few years that has led you to become a health coach of sorts.

I'm going to step back, and I really would love you to paint the picture of your life because you have this amazing life story. It really does help us understand the work that you do and how you can help us now.

[00:04:01] Kathleen Gage: Thank you. It's so interesting the journey that my life and my business have taken because I've had my business for 26 years. I started as a corporate trainer, and I was working with a lot of government agencies. Through the process of just my own personal growth and the evolution of business, now where we're at with the whole COVID-19 situation, what I really focus on is helping experts who have a big mission. They want to get their message out to the market to either start a podcast show and use that as a platform to get their message out, or to get on a lot of podcast shows and saturate the market with their message in the most appropriate way.

On the flip side, I actually discovered plant-based eating. I'm coming up on about 20 months of being a plant-based eater. Initially, I started because I'm going to be 66 very shortly. Like a lot of women my age, I was getting inflammation, so I was looking for a solution. Everything led me back to plant-based eating. What's amazing is within a couple of days of deciding to go plant-based, this was back in September of 2018, the inflammation was gone. The first week I dropped five pounds, and I wasn't doing it as a diet, but I thought, hey, I'll take it.

Within about three months, I dropped 38 pounds, I had more energy than I’d had in a long time, and the most important thing, which I love, Ashley, is that it was so aligned with my love of animals. Amazingly, I've worked in the pet industry for years. That came about as a result of doing a lot of animal rescue. I did a fundraiser for one of our rescues, and somebody from the pet industry saw me, asked me if I’d come and speak at a conference. One thing led to another, and at one point, about 50% of my business was in the pet industry.

One day, before I actually went plant-based, I remember feeling like there was a disconnect between rescuing animals, loving animals so much, talking about the well-being of animals, and eating animals. When I went plant-based, it was that big aha like that's what the disconnect was. I was so out of alignment with what I said was true, but I wasn't walking the talk.

Now, where my life is is that I do have two primary—what I call—buckets in my life and my business. One is working with experts—really helping them to gain the visibility to get their message out to market, and also living a very plant-based life. I've got a Facebook group, I've got a podcast, I've got a blog, and I'm so passionate about getting the message out about plant-based eating. What it does for your health, what it does for animals, and what it does for the planet.

[00:06:46] Ashley James: I'm in your Facebook group, I love your Facebook group. I love the resources.

[00:06:50] Kathleen Gage: Thank you.

[00:06:52] Ashley James: Every day you're posting articles and book recommendations. You've asked me a few times to share some episodes like my interviews with Dr. Joel Fuhrman and Dr. Neal Barnard. I've got a few really good ones where these doctors are reversing disease using diet. I love those interviews. I love interviewing doctors who have the clinical experience of completely reversing diabetes, and this is type 2 diabetes, obviously. You can significantly improve type 1 diabetes with plant-based eating. When I say plant-based I mean whole foods plant-based, no processed foods, no oil, for example.

We have seen, under the care of these doctors, type 1 diabetics, significantly reduce their insulin usage healthfully even though they're eating more carbohydrates. It blows their minds because they're actually eating more carbs. Of course, they're completely different carbs so this shouldn't even be called carbs. A banana, a donut shouldn't be both called carbs. It's just two totally different things to the body. So type 1 diabetics are significantly improving their health and lowering their medical expenses. Type 2 diabetics are 100% reversing type 2 diabetes.

Heart disease patients who have actual blockages in the heart are reversing blockages in the heart, are getting off of medications, getting so healthy that they're getting off of medication, and the list goes on and on. A dear friend of mine, Naomi, went plant-based last summer. I remember the day. She came from her appointment where she was told she had heart disease, and she had had Angina. She goes for daily walks, but she was winded, walking slowly, and she could never keep up with her three kids. She was getting chest pain, tachycardia, and heart skipping. Her heart was skipping and also beating fast. In the middle of the night, she’d wake up with her heart skipping and beating fast, and it was scaring her.

She thought it was her hormones, she thought it was the EBV that she's been fighting for years, and it turned out it was actually heart disease. She came over to our house, and she thought how am I going to get my family to eat whole food plant-based? She came straight to our house from that appointment, and I had just made fresh rolls—like these big wraps with these leafy greens wrapped with a bunch of vegetables inside. I made a homemade peanut dipping sauce, and she loved it. She said, “Man, I could make this for my family.”

She proceeded to go home and start her plant-based journey that day. Then her family got on board with her, her three kids got on board. She's not strict with them. If they go out, they're going to eat meat outside the house, but there's no meat in the house, and they're actually really happy. They love the food she cooks. But then, she got her parents to go plant-based. Her dad, who had heart surgery. Both of her parents have arthritis. They're maybe a little bit older than you, and her mom, within weeks of going whole food plant-based, her arthritis was 100% gone. Her pain was 100% gone. She couldn't believe it. Not only is she losing some excess weight she had problems with, but all of her inflammation, all of her joint stiffness and pain went away within weeks.

This is the thing I'm hearing over and over again. It's so exciting. You started eating whole food plant-based, and you started noticing these changes in your body. Then what happened?

[00:10:32] Kathleen Gage: Dramatic changes. A great example is this morning, I went on a 2 ½ mile run, and that's a low run, that's a small run for me. It hit me as I was getting ready today, I thought, wow, here I am. I'm going to be 66 years old. I remember growing up when you looked at somebody in their 60s, they were old. I look at a lot of women my age and they're really old because they have bought into the belief that there's not much they can do, but when you change the way you eat, when you change what you put into your body, and you get rid of the inflammation producing foods, a lot can change.

For me it's I have much more energy, I have incredible focus. It's so amazing right now with all that's going on, so much stress in the world, and that people are getting sucked into this downward mindset that for me, I'm not stressed. I'm not feeling the stress that a lot of people are feeling, and I felt guilty a few days ago. I was like, what's wrong with me? Why am I not feeling what everybody else is feeling? Well, I'm not eating what everybody else is eating.

Now, there was a period in my life when I was caretaking my mom, and she passed away in 2011. As I was her caretaker, I was consuming so much sugar and processed food, and I had gained. I was at my heaviest weight. I was 212 pounds at that point. I had no energy, I was depressed a lot, I was sad a lot, and of course, when you're losing your mom you're probably going to be sad. I've often thought, I wonder what my life would have been like and how I would have been able to respond even more than I already did had I not been eating the way I had been eating.

So for me, I feel like I've discovered the fountain of youth. I follow all the doctors like Dr. Fuhrman, Dr. Campbell, Dr. Greger, I follow all of them, and I really love their work. I also love talking to people that have had these reversals like your friend. I like talking to individuals who have had life-changing experiences. I interviewed a gentleman the other day. Brian Rogers is his name. He was 300 pounds, had six major diseases, had liver disease, he had heart disease, and he was borderline diabetes. It was just phenomenal what was going on in his life and his health. He was going to get bariatric surgery, and they decided to wait a little while because of insurance reasons.

He looked at it and he said, “Okay, I need to make some dramatic changes.” That was 140 pounds ago, that was six diseases ago. He's reversed every single disease. When people say that there's nothing they can do about their health, they need to look at is that true or is it that you haven't explored one more option? Because the one more option they have just so much amazing information on what plant-based eating can do for people.

For me, as I get older, I keep getting healthier, and healthier, and healthier. The last time I went for my physical, my doctor, she just kept doing this. She goes, “Your numbers are amazing. These are some of the best numbers I've ever seen. They're getting better and better every time I see you.” The first time I saw her when I went plant-based, it was about three months into it. She was just like, “This is incredible.” Because at one point, she said, “You better lose some weight. You better do something with your health because you're ready to have a heart attack, and you're ready to have a stroke.” She goes, “You're not a kid anymore, and you need to realize you're putting your life at risk.”

She was going to put me on some medication. I said, “Well, let me lose some weight.” Of course, I did what most people do, I went on a crash diet. Lost some weight, but then I gained it all back and some. For the first time in my life, I don't diet, I don't count calories, and I eat a lot. As you said, it's the difference in the type of carbohydrates that we eat. Unfortunately, carbs have gotten a really bad rap because it's not the carbs themselves, it's the type of carbs—the sugar, the doughnuts, the cookies, all of the bad foods.

I would encourage people that if you're feeling like you're not living up to your full potential, give it a shot for a week. Try 100% plant-based, and what that means is as close to nature as possible. A lot of people assume, Ashley, that it means that you're only going to eat salads, and there are so many choices. Oh my gosh. Actually, for breakfast, this is bizarre. For breakfast, we've been taught that we need bacon and eggs, pancakes, toasts, and all this stuff. For breakfast today what I had was split pea soup. It's homemade split pea soup with leeks in it, with onions in it, and with carrots in it. I made it from scratch, and that was so good. The energy it gives me is unflipping believable.

[00:15:37] Ashley James: I love it. Yeah, we have to question our belief system around food. The belief that we need cereal, we need a certain breakfast, or we need a certain lunch. Just know that there's this whole world of what we don't know we don't know out there. I love that lesson I learned from Landmark Education way back when I was a teenager. I took the Landmark Forum, which is a personal growth and development course. They say the world is made up—there are three things. The world is the things you know you know, like you know you know how to drive, right? That's a small percentage of the world, let's say it's 5%. You know you know how to set the timer on your phone like the things you know you know.

Then there are the things you know you don't know, and you know that you don't know how to operate a rocket ship, right? You know you don't know how to fly on a trapeze, the things you know you don't know. That's maybe a bit larger. Maybe it's 25%, but then the majority of the circle is comprised of things you don't know you don't know. We live life like the only things that exist are things we know we know and things we know we don't know. We tend to ignore, we tend to negate this whole other world, which is the majority of existence out there, like the stuff we don't know we don't know.

When all of a sudden we learn something we didn't know we didn't know, it'll hit us hard. Either we accept it and we go, wow, this is new information. I didn't even know this was possible. I didn't know I could heal my body with food 100% and not with drugs. We accept it or we reject it because it doesn't match our belief system of, well, this doesn't fit into the box of the things I knew I didn't know and so I'm going to reject it. We have to be careful. We need to make sure we keep our minds open enough, which I think my listeners do that's why they're here listening. They're listening for what they don't know they don't know and the aha moments that come from that.

You were having those revelations, right? Because like you said, you didn't diet but as you switched over to plant-based eating, can you share some of the aha moments as you were learning from these doctors?

[00:18:13] Kathleen Gage: Absolutely. It's also interesting about what we think we know that we know, and it's based on hearsay, it's based on propaganda, it's based on media, and it's based on marketing dollars. Most people think they know that they need to have animal protein, and that is the furthest thing from the truth. The first thing I often get from people when I say that I'm plant-based is, where do you get your protein? I know that you've heard that too. Well, you get your protein from beans, from legumes, and from greens. I mean, plant-based food has as much if not more protein than animal-based, but it doesn't have all the garbage that goes with it.

For people to look at what do you think that you know that you know that maybe you don't know that you don't know—it's like a tongue twister on that one. With factory farming, for example. I had a woman the other day who got upset because I posted something about the factory farms that are being shut down. I said, “Yay, I'm so glad that's happening,” and she got defensive. Apparently, her family has a family farm.

I said, “The two are night and day.” I said, “The way that family farms are run compared to factory farms are night and day, so don't take it so personally because personally, I'm very glad that the factory farms are shutting down, and I would like to see more sustainable food being grown so that it's healthier.” Because you look at our health system, and what has happened with COVID-19 was really the straw that broke the camel's back. The system was broken, and for it to fall apart that quickly with this crisis indicates that something we were doing is really wrong. We need to get into the foundation and fix the foundation.

As far as the things that I've learned, one I've learned a lot about nutrition, so much in fact that I decided to get my certificate of completion from eCornell University. March 2nd is when I graduated from that course. It was pretty phenomenal to just learn where the studies come from. For example, when you read a study, maybe it says this study says that milk is good for bones, it makes strong bones. Well, 9 times out of 10 that study is going to be funded by the milk industry and the dairy industry. When you're reading a study, you want to look at who funded the study. That's one thing that I've learned in the time that I've been plant-based.

Another thing that I've learned is I really love cooking. I never like to cook. That comes from a previous marriage. When I was 19 I got married to my high school sweetheart, and he was very demanding with the way that I cook. I was working all day, I would come home, and he wanted me to cook. I ended up hating cooking because nothing I did was good enough. I mean, it turned out to be a pretty bad marriage. We were married for three years, got divorced, and it was a rather abusive relationship.

I actually formed a belief that I was a bad cook. I formed a belief that I hated cooking until I went plant-based and I started experimenting because nobody was going to cook for me unless I cooked when it came to plant-based. It was like the thing with your friend where she started and then pretty soon, her kids got into it and her parents got into it. What I'm finding is I have friends and family now that are going plant-based as a result of me cooking for them. They're like, “Wow, this is really good.” It's like really, are you just telling me that, or is it really good? I'm like, “I think it's good.”

My mother in law, I love cooking for her because she's in her mid-80s, she's at high risk with the whole situation going on, and she has cystic fibrosis of the lungs. We have to be careful with her health and make sure that she eats really healthy. She'll come over and she goes, “What kind of soup did you make today?” It's like oh my gosh, I have somebody who loves my cooking. Of course, applaud me and I'll cook more. I've learned that I really enjoy cooking, I've learned a lot about nutrition, I've learned to balance my meals, and I've learned that there were certain foods that I thought that I couldn't do without that I absolutely don't like anymore.

I was so addicted to doughnuts, candy, and cookies. When I was eating sugar, I would go and buy a box of doughnuts—the six in a box doughnut. If anybody ate one of my doughnuts I got so upset that I would go and get another box and I would eat that box too. In one sitting, I would eat a box of doughnuts. Now, the thought of eating doughnuts just does not appeal to me at all.

What I learned is my taste buds changed, and that's what a lot of people fear is that they're going to miss certain foods. Well, you find out that your body adjusts to that and your body craves the really healthy foods.

[00:23:07] Ashley James: Yes, it's so true. It's so true. I used to be a chocoholic, I used to totally be addicted to chocolate, and I used to totally be addicted to sugar. A few years ago, my husband and I did the 30-day sugar detox challenge, you know what I mean? Just cut out all sugar to the point where I got so strict. I'm a label reader, I read labels. I call myself a food detective. I think we should all be food detectives. If you're going to buy something with ingredients on the package, read the ingredients, know what you're eating. I love hot sauce, and that's something that I didn't ever love until I met my husband. He started ramping up the heat in our meals. Now I just absolutely love hot sauce.

I was looking for hot sauce, and I was hard-pressed to find a hot sauce that didn't contain sugar. I thought that's interesting how much sugar is hidden in all of our foods. We’d been gluten-free since 2011, but I would get a gluten-free bread—sugars in it, what? I’d eat a gluten-free waffle—sugars in it, what? Now, I don't eat cereal, but I've been looking because we have a five-year-old. I'm looking is there a healthy cereal out there that he can eat. There's not one cereal that I can find that doesn't have sugar in it, that's just all-natural ingredients. It's very hard to find.

I did find something that was like made of lentils, just these little O's that are made of lentils. Almost no grocery store carries them. I thought that Rice Krispies didn't have sugar in them. When I was growing up, they didn't, now they have sugar in them. For me, there’s sugar in everything. I couldn't believe it. We did 30 days with no sugar, and I became so aware. When I say no sugar I mean no processed sugar, no cane sugar, no beet sugar, no maple syrup, no agave, just no processed sugar. I could still eat a banana, something natural I would have.

For 30 days no sugar, my taste buds changed, and now, I have this 100% dark chocolate from Trader Joe's sitting in the cupboard. It's been sitting there for weeks. If I feel like I want some chocolate, I'll take a little square, and I'll eat it with half a date or a whole date. I don't even need a whole date because it sweetens it, and then I'm fine. I'm like, oh, I'm fine. I look at it and it's been sitting there. It's slowly getting whittled away—one tiny square a week or something. I'm thinking to myself, first of all, I wouldn't have bought the 100% dark chocolate because it wasn't sweet. But in the past, I would have eaten three bars because I was a chocoholic.

Now, when I open the cupboard and I see it there—this half-eaten bar still in its wrapping—I'm like, I don't even want it. I don't want it. I'm looking at it, it doesn't thrill me, whereas before, it was like chocolate controlled me. Now it just has no thrill, but the food I’m cooking is amazing. I have friends that when we go over to their house, obviously not right now with all being quarantined, but when we go over their house I always bring food because they're like we don't know what to make you guys. I'm like great. Don't worry about it. I'll make you food. They had the question. They're like, “Where do you get your protein from?” I said, “Plants,” and they're just like, “What?”

Like everyone, they think that there's no protein in plants. I said, “Well, plants. Any plant. Just eat a plant you're getting protein. It's a misconception that protein isn't in plants. I make the most delicious food—soups, stew. Yes, I did a salad last time I went there, but I sprouted lentils, which is the easiest thing to do. You look like a wizard in the kitchen. I sprouted lentils. I made sprouted lentil soup, it's so easy. You can actually get kids to do it, it's so easy to make kitchen sprouts in your kitchen. They're really hard to mess up. Just the food is so delicious. There's so much more flavor in this food. Of course. It's also very healing.

Tell me a bit about the nutrition course. You took a plant-based nutrition course from eCornell University. Tell us about your experience going through that certification.

[00:27:46] Kathleen Gage: What I realized was that I actually knew a lot more than I thought I knew because much of it was stuff I had already researched because I'm a researcher. I love reading books, I love watching videos, and I immerse myself in a topic. For example, I've been sober for 36 years. When I was out drinking, I drank until I blacked out. I mean, that's just the kind of drinker I was. When it was time to stop, and it wasn't that I one day said I think I'll stop. It was like my life fell apart. I was out on the streets, I was broke, and I was broken the whole nine yards. I had to build my life from that point that was 36 years ago.

I'm very black-and-white in a lot of ways. Once I decided to really immerse myself in this, I studied everything I could get my hands on. You name a book I probably read it. We're talking everything from the China study, Eat to Live, Sugar Salt Fat, that book is really great for anybody who wants to find out about the hidden sugar and why we're so addicted to it. When I took the course, I was actually pleasantly surprised at how much I did know. The one thing that I really discovered were the reports and really looking at studies that are done, that part was fascinating to me.

One of the tasks that we had, we had to write articles, which I'm a writer so that was really easy for me. As I watched people struggling with that, I was like well this is so interesting. It's something that now is a part of my life. We learned about nutrition, we learned about studies, we learned about different resources available, and this could be a springboard to other things we're doing. For me, as I mentioned, I'm very black and white so when I started, I wrote an e-book. Within three months of going plant-based, I wrote the Beginner's Guide to Plant Based Eating.

I didn't know there was another book by that name, but it was my journey of how I made the decision, what happened in the first three months, and then here are some healthy foods that you can eat. That book is available on my website. Then I started the Facebook group, then I started the blog, and then I started the podcast. One of my goals, when the whole situation is minimized and we can get out there and do speaking engagements again, I want to speak at conferences, not necessarily plant-based conferences but conferences where it's about health and wellness, it's about mindset, it's about taking control of your life.

When you were talking about the whole thing with sugar, a lot of people confuse the topic of sugar just like carbohydrates. Real natural sugar is good for us like the fruits that we have. Before we started this call, I actually made myself a drink. It's a blended drink of fresh pineapple, fresh banana, and fresh orange. I put some water in there, I blend it up, and it's a beautiful drink. It gives me so much energy, and I can't believe that I just said it's a beautiful drink. I look at food now and it's so beautiful. I just get excited about food.

I would recommend that people look at the books available that can change your life. One is Eat To Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Fast Food Genocide, oh my gosh, that book is unbelievable. Sugar Salt Fat—you look at the controls that manufacturers have over people's lives, it's scary when you pull back the cover and you start digging deep. It's no wonder that we have become such a sick society—physically sick, emotionally sick, and spiritually sick. It's because we have these chemicals that are going into our body and we're not even aware of it.

When I started doing my research and I realized, like you said, reading the labels. How much sugar is in processed food? It's scary. That's how our kids are being raised. It's so wonderful to hear that you're raising your—it's a son or a daughter?

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

[00:31:46] Ashley James: Son.

[00:31:47] Kathleen Gage: A son.

[00:31:48] Ashley James: I know it's confusing because he has long hair, so does my husband. We’re just a bunch of hippies. We’re hairy hippies.

[00:31:53] Kathleen Gage: Hippies are good, hippies are good. I was thinking, this whole process that we're all going through right now, what a great opportunity too. I was talking with Karen earlier. Karen's my wife and we've been together 30 years. She does weight training, and she found some old equipment that she's actually cleaning up and refurbishing. She goes, “We've become such a throwaway society.” She goes, “People just get things and they throw it away,” and it's so true. We have become such a disposable throwaway society.

What's happening here is people are either resisting it 100% and they're not looking at the blessing of what's going on right now. Then other people are looking at it and saying what's the lesson I can learn here, and what can I do differently in my life? For example, I became aware of how mindless I was about hopping in the car and running to the store, hopping in the car, riding to the post office instead of planning my trips out more consciously. This whole situation with COVID-19 is giving us the opportunity to step back, and we've been asked to stay in our homes. It's the internal home that we get to go into. We get to dig deep and really look at what's truly important in life.

It's interesting to hear how some people are really having struggles in their relationship because they're spending so much time with their spouse. Karen and I have been talking about what a blessing it is that we get to do one more thing we get to go through together. That's a difficult thing on some levels, but on other levels, it's such a blessing. What I've noticed is that there are people that are becoming very conscious about the choices that they're making and the actions that they take in. If anything, I hope that's the lesson people take away from this experience.

[00:33:45] Ashley James: You mentioned the word distractions. You're talking about people who are—you painted this picture for me. I don't know if you said the word distractions exactly, but you painted a picture of the people who are either embracing this and learning from it, or the people who are stressed out, upset, and maybe distracting themselves. One of my favorite comedians is Zach Anner, I don't know if you've heard of him. He has cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy lives in—

[00:34:17] Kathleen Gage: Yes, yes, yes.

[00:34:18] Ashley James: He is hilarious. He makes fun of himself, he makes fun of everything. He's very intelligent—very, very intelligent humor. I laugh so hard I can barely contain myself, so I love Zach Anne. Not only is he a comedian, he wants to bring awareness to special needs and those with disabilities and also make people feel more comfortable so that we can have more connection and less distancing. One of his videos he recently made for Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month, which I think was February. It's a very recent video that he just made this year.

He shares the lessons he's learned in the last 30 or 40 years of his life having cerebral palsy. In this particular video, it's not a slapstick comedy like most of his videos. It's actually very heartfelt, but one thing he said really hit me. He said, “Passions over distractions.” Let's say video games, for example, or a distraction could be alcohol. What are you using to distract yourself versus your passions? If someone's passionate about their gaming community, playing a video game with their friends, it's not hurting their life to do it, and that's are enriching them, that's fine. But is it a distraction? Are you using it? Are you using something? It could be food, it could be alcohol, and it could be TV. Are you using something to distract yourself, or are you following your passions?

He says, “Distractions will destroy your life, but following your passions will enrich your life.” I think right now, there are people who are following their passions in this time of restriction, and I think there are people who are diving into distractions. They're going to come out of this not as enriched, obviously, as the people who are following their passions.

[00:36:33] Kathleen Gage: That is so spot-on. My sister is a fine artist, and she's also a very social person. She spends a lot of time with friends, out at galleries, and her artwork is all over the Bay Area. She's done very well as an artist. I asked her recently, I said, “How are you doing with all this?” She goes, “I’m loving it. This is giving me an opportunity to really dig deep into my art and express myself in a whole new way. I go to my studio and I work for hours on end. I get lost in the process of creating art. I don't miss it at all. Now, when we're able to go out again, I definitely will do it, but right now, I'm seeing this as a very spiritual process that I'm going through.”

I absolutely love that. You're right about the distractions or the passions. For me, I've been doing a lot more writing. As you were sharing that, I see in business people do that a lot where they get involved in the distraction of running their business, and they get involved in the minutia of running the business, and the little detail things that they could actually outsource. For a few bucks, they could get it done, but rather than paying $20, $30 to have somebody who can get it done right away, they spend hours and hours and hours trying to figure it out themselves, it's like okay, and then they get frustrated. If you're getting that frustrated, why don't you invest in bringing somebody on who can help you to free up your time.

With passions, I love that because as I've been writing—some of the articles I've written are maybe 1,500 to 2,000 words. I literally just do a download, I'm not really thinking about what I'm putting on the computer screen. I'm just sitting there typing, I'm channeling some thoughts, then I go through and I clean it up, and I do the research on it. But initially, I'll get an idea based on something somebody said like with the factory farms closing down and people were getting frustrated, where's our food going to come? The chain’s going to stop and the supply is going to end. No, this is wonderful.

I've actually been writing a lot of the big show hosts like—I'm trying to think of the woman that I wrote today and it was on Good Morning America. They had somebody that was doing a plant-based recipe. I sent her my blog post. I'm reaching out to people, and I'm just sending my information. I have no idea where it's going to land. It may land somewhere, it may not, but it's something that I'm so committed to that I want to get the word out about the fact that just because the factory farms are closing down, it doesn't mean that's a bad thing. It means it could be a good thing, and let's look at the other options for food. Now, granted a lot of people are losing jobs, but if they could make the transition and have more sustainable food, these people could work in a different environment and a healthier environment.

[00:39:37] Ashley James: As you were going through the Cornell certification, what things did you learn that you were really surprised to learn?

[00:39:51] Kathleen Gage: Again, I think it was more about where the studies are funded. That was the most shocking part to me.

[00:39:58] Ashley James: That was the biggest one?

[00:39:59] Kathleen Gage: Yeah, because there was a module where you had to dig deep and you had to bring proof to the table. You couldn't just say I read a report and it was from such-and-such. You actually had to spend quite a bit of time documenting exactly where the information came from, and basically, you were a researcher and you were a detective to figure out who really funded that study that says that milk is good for our body, or who funded the study that said you need animal protein, or who funded the study saying bacon's not bad for you. It was the pork industry, what a concept.

For me, that was the biggest aha that I had is pulling back the covers and really looking at who's behind it. For example, somebody sent me a video recently of a congressman who was talking about the food supply drying up because the factory farms are closing. I mean he made a good argument, it was a really good argument. I simply went on Google, did a little research, and I found out he's funded by the pork industry, isn't that interesting? He's a voice for the pork industry, and it's the pork industry who has funded him.

[00:41:12] Ashley James: Wow.

[00:41:13] Kathleen Gage: Yeah, yeah. It didn't take long to figure that out because I learned it through the eCornell University course. Had I not learned that I probably would have taken what he was saying at face value, so of course, I did a blog post around don't take everything at face value.

[00:41:31] Ashley James: One of my favorite books on all nutrition, probably my favorite nutrition book of all time is Proteinaholic by Dr. Garth Davis. I mean I love all the books you've mentioned, they're all really great. Proteinaholic was like the cherry on top of everything. It was everything for me. He sums it up so well, and I think it's chapter 9, it's up there in the later chapters of the book where he goes through studies. He goes through who funded the studies, and he completely tears it apart. He talks about all the studies that are grouped together that talk about how much we need dairy for our bones and all the studies that the dairy industry paid for.

They do these studies where they do 100 different ones, for example. They do these small groups of people. The ones when the people don't have good outcomes they throw it out, and they only keep the ones that have good outcomes. They’re cherry-picking the studies, and they keep repeating it until they can smudge the numbers to say that it is helpful right. But then, he goes through the science of showing, and I know that Dr. Neal Barnard paints this very well in his book about cheese. That when we consume dairy, we are depleting the mineral supply from our bones. Communities, countries that consume more dairy have more osteoporosis. Cultures that consume no dairy or very little dairy have very low rates of osteoporosis. We can look at those big numbers and see that there is a correlation there, but that dairy itself is not a great delivery system for minerals.

One of my favorite Naturopaths who's mentored me, Dr. Joel Wallach, he says, “Cows can't make minerals. Let’s get this straight. You think you're getting your minerals from a cow, cows don't make minerals. Cows are fed supplements. They're fed a feed with calcium in it.” He says, “Skip the middleman, take the supplements.” We're all imagining cows are sitting out in a pasture grazing on grass, but let's be honest, if you're drinking milk, it's coming from cows that have never seen grass in their life. They're in a building their entire life since birth in a very small compound. They're being fed a feed with supplements, antibiotics, and other stuff that's not very great. They're then making milk with some of those nutrients in it.

You could just skip the middleman and take a supplement, or you could eat—if a cow was allowed to go out and graze, they’d get the minerals from the plants. We'd be skipping all the hormones, and all the immune compromising compounds of milk, but we've been marketed to since birth that milk is really good for us. We have to again see the marketing and realize that the industries that have to invest in marketing and lobbyists are not out for our health. There are no lobbyists for kale. There are no lobbyists to eat an apple, eat a banana, and eat some spinach. There's no marketing in that, so you have to go, well if there's an industry that will pay for studies, that will pay for lobbyists, and pay for marketing, why do they have to convince us to keep eating their food?

The egg industry is legally not allowed to say eggs are healthy, legally. I thought that was very interesting. They have flashy commercials like with Kevin Bacon. Have you seen those commercials where Kevin Bacon is lying on the counter in the kitchen complimenting the wife for having made eggs with Kevin Bacon? Make eggs with Kevin Bacon?

[00:46:01] Kathleen Gage: I have not seen that one.

[00:46:03] Ashley James: They make these fun commercials, but they're not actually out for our best interests in terms of our health.

[00:46:17] Kathleen Gage: I've thought of the very famous people who are part of the whole marketing process. Should they decide to go plant-based, what would that look like? Because they would be giving up some funding and a level of income that gives them a pretty good lifestyle, but also, they're contributing to the ill health of a lot of people. Because the reality is, the majority of people in the world are lactose intolerant. The very thing that they're saying, does a body good really doesn't do a body good? African Americans are much more susceptible to that. The antibiotic issue, they have done studies where they've drawn blood from people that eat meat but they haven't taken any antibiotics for quite a while and they find antibiotics in their body.

What people don't realize unless they do the research unless they get the real information is when they eat meat, they're getting not only a lot of drugs, they're getting the antibiotics, they're getting the toxins, they're getting the cholesterol, they're getting all the bad things, and very little good. There's not much good in the meat that's processed in factory farms. I had a discussion with a friend of mine not too long ago who's very integrated into the animal industry. She was saying, “Oh, Kathleen, you're just making a big deal out of it. I grew up on a farm and we raised our animals with a lot of compassion. They only have one bad day.” I'm thinking that is the worst argument. One bad day, slit their throat and it's a bad day. No, the life on a factory farm is a lifetime of pain, of suffering.

If you follow the whole premise of energy, and that we take in a lot of energy from everything that we do—there's a thing called earthing where you take your socks and shoes off and you put your feet on the earth and it balances your electoral energy. But when you put animal products into your body that have been raised in factory farms, energetically, you're taking in pain, suffering, anger, and fear. It's no wonder that people are so neurotic because, energetically, they've taken that into their body and it’s a constant. It's not like it's once or twice.

When you really dig even deeper beyond the surface level of health but you go into the emotional and spiritual health—what I always invite people to do is before you eat that piece of meat, sit and meditate on where that meat came from. Take it back the whole process to when the cow was impregnated, then they had the baby, then the baby was taken away, then the cow lived a life of misery caged up, then they had their throat slit, then they were cut up, then they went through the whole process, and it was put on your plate. If you can still eat it, then God bless you.

[00:49:21] Ashley James: We're taught that it's healthy. Think about it, our grandmother, our mom cooked us this meat, gave it to us, and told us to eat our meat. It's even in a rock song, don't get your pudding unless you eat your meat. It's something that we—from a very young age—have been taught is good for us. Some people say I feel good when I eat this way. I've been on over 30 diets in my life, probably over 40 diets at this point. I'd read a book, this doctor makes a lot of sense, okay I'm going to do this diet. I remember at times when I felt like meat made me feel good. Of course, I was incredibly unhealthy, and I was trying to find my health. It was simply because I wasn't eating crap food.

For a short period of time, I felt good on Atkins—not long. After three months on Atkins, I felt sicker than I’d ever had in my life, and I actually tried it three different times. I always felt there was something wrong with me that I couldn't keep eating Atkins because Atkins is supposed to be really healthy, so there's something wrong that I can't eat bacon all day, right? I kept failing on this diet. Well, Dr. Garth Davis, in his book Proteinaholic, paints this picture so well. He explains that you did not fail this diet, this diet failed you. This diet was not healthy. With all the science, he breaks down why that diet is not healthy, why we're not supposed to eat a carnivorous diet. The human body is not designed to do that long term. We can do it short term as part of survival, it doesn't mean it creates optimal health.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman says, “Listen, just because it makes you feel good doesn't mean it's healthy. Cocaine is going to make you feel good, it doesn't mean it's healthy.” This idea of in the short term, some way of eating, for example, I feel good when I eat salmon, pork, or I feel good when I eat eggs in the morning. That I feel good doesn't necessarily equate to it's a better health choice for your body.

[00:51:46] Kathleen Gage: Absolutely.

[00:51:47] Ashley James: I noticed everyone who gets on a whole food plant-based diet, or at least consumes more vegetables, more plants—because some people can transition. I transitioned slowly, my husband overnight. He woke up one morning, this was almost 2 ½ years ago, he woke up and said, “I'm never eating meat again.” Me, it took me after that because I had decided to stop cooking meat. I slowly transitioned, and I was consuming all this information, but I slowly transitioned to where I wasn't eating meat 100%. Some people will cut back their meat consumption, and cut back their animal products—their eggs and their dairy—and they'll start to feel the shift, and there is a shift.

I've gotten so much information from people saying that a whole food plant-based diet has been life-changing for them, has been amazing. They feel they have so much endurance. You run marathons now. Tell us about your endurance. Tell us about the amazing physical fitness you've gotten over the last 20 months of eating a whole food plant-based diet.

[00:52:56] Kathleen Gage: I'd be happy to, but I will tell you that my claim to fame is I always come in last on a marathon, so there it is. I’m not a fast runner. When I first started running, I had people say are you going to win? Oh, hell. If I can cross the finish line without dying I'm good to go. I'm not a fast runner, but I'm a persistent runner. The first time I tried I did power walking. I had heard a commercial from the Lymphoma Leukemia Society. I was overweight at the time and they were saying, “Do you need to lose weight? Do you like to do good things for the community? Then join us for this run for life,” or whatever they call it. I thought okay I'm going to.

I started doing power walking and was getting in pretty good shape. Of course, doing the crash diet because that's all I knew at the time, still eating meat. I was probably doing the bone broth diet, or I was doing the Atkins, or whatever I was doing. What's so interesting is I was going to do the Portland Marathon and this was when I was 55. I was on mile 8 of a training day and something told me that I should stop, but I went against that. My gut was saying stop, stop, stop. Next thing I know I hit a pothole and I cracked my ankle and literally heard it crack. It was awful. Turns out, yes, I did break it.

I was so frustrated because I had put so much effort into losing the weight, I had put effort into the training. As it turned out, I believe that there's always a higher purpose for what's going on. Right after I broke my ankle, my dad was diagnosed with brain and lung cancer, and within four weeks he passed away. I think that it was life slowing me down to literally stop in my tracks to be there as fully as I could be there. I stopped for quite a while, and it was when I was 60 that I picked up the sport again. I was doing power walking, and then I got involved with a group of women that would run on Saturdays. We called ourselves the slow fat girls. We were the slow fat girls because I had gained weight again. I was like this is pretty cool.

I started getting faster and faster and never got to where I was going to win a marathon, but I enjoyed the sport because I was finding it was very meditative, I was connecting with these women, and we'd get together once a week, and then when it was twice a week we were training for marathons. The first marathon I did was at 61. Again, I finished last so I'm proud of that.

[00:55:31] Ashley James: The fact that you finished is amazing—finishing a marathon. I don't know if even 10% of our listeners have finished a marathon. How many miles is a marathon, 16, 18?

[00:55:43] Kathleen Gage: 26.2.

[00:55:46] Ashley James: 26 miles.

[00:55:48] Kathleen Gage: 26.2. It's so funny because I actually hired a trainer because I wanted to do it the right way. I think I coaxed her into coaching me, and I said, “Tell me what you charge, I'll pay you.” She goes, “I don't really coach people.” I said, “But you do marathons. Please, coach me, coach me.” So she gave me a price, I gave her a check, and she started coaching me. She really wasn't into it. On the day of the marathon at mile 19, I was dying. I was in such pain, and Karen was on her bike next to me going, “Come on, you got to do it, you got to do it.” My coach came up, and she said, “You know, 19 miles is respectable. You could quit,” and Karen goes, “The hell she will. If you quit now you will never forgive yourself. Get off your ass, get up. I don't care if you crawl across the finish line.”

That's what I needed. I love that woman dearly thank you so very much, and of course, I'm cursing her out and everything, but I crossed the finish line. She said, “You had to finish. You worked so hard for this, you had to do it,” and I did. The next year, all I wanted to do was improve my time, and I improved my time by an hour and a half. Now, what I do is I do half marathons. I did do a sprint triathlon for my 64th birthday. For my 66th birthday, I have no idea what I'm going to do because we're under quarantine right now, we have to stay home. I don't know that I can go do anything, but I go running on a daily basis.

I usually get in anywhere from 2 to 5 miles. Today was a little day like I mentioned, it was 2 ½ miles. I thought isn’t that pretty amazing? What I find is, since going plant-based, I do go longer distances, I'm not as exhausted, and the recovery time is amazing. That's where I really noticed an improvement is the inflammation is not there like it used to be. The first marathon I ran, I literally for days I was down. I couldn't move hardly, I was in such pain. Now, if I go on a 10-15 mile run, the next day it's like okay, let's go do something else and it's no big deal.

[00:58:01] Ashley James: There's a big difference between being a vegetarian or being a vegan and being a whole food plant-based. Some people have reported to me, well yeah, I did that thing. I went vegetarian and I didn't feel healthy, or I still had my inflammation, I still had my brain fog. When I was 16 I decided to go vegetarian for the summer. I was really into studying Reiki, and the person who was going to teach me Reiki said I had to stop eating animals as part of the energetics because you're better at doing Reiki when you don't eat animals. I was just like, “Okay, I'll do whatever you say. I want to learn this.”

Well, what did I eat? I went across the street. I worked at a spa as the receptionist and managed the front end of the spa. It was an all-natural spa, it was cool. They had no chemicals. I mean, this is back in the 90s. They had essential oils, they had Aveda products before Aveda was bought out by the big company that bought it out—I think L’Oréal. But it was all-natural skincare and hair care products. This is in Muskoka in Canada. I went ahead and had this great summer job. I just loved it, but what did I do?

Every day, I walked across the street and I bought a cheese pizza because it was vegetarian, right? Of course, I knew I was allergic to dairy, I bought a cheese pizza or I bought a vegetarian sub, and then I'd come home and make pasta. There are almost no vegetables in my life. There was 100% processed flour, wheat, carbs, and dairy—even though I knew I was allergic to dairy. I was a teenager so I'm not going to make the best choices. I felt horrible. Within a matter of months, I gained 25 pounds even though I was physically active. I just felt exhausted and horrible.

Then I started eating meat, I stopped eating the processed crap, and I went back to eating meat, vegetables, and things like that. I thought meat makes me feel good and vegetarian is bad. This idea got clicked into my head, and I've met so many other people that say this that I tried that and it didn't feel good. It’s two totally different things. Whole food plant-based is cutting out processed crap food that you may have never in your life lived for one-week—solid seven days—without at least eating some processed food. Doing so, cutting it totally out, is life-changing. It makes such a big difference. As you said, the inflammation goes down, but people become afraid, what am I going to eat? What can I eat?

I know that you have pointed out a lot of resources. My friend and I created a video training on—it's like a little membership. We filmed ourselves in the kitchen for months, we filmed ourselves cooking. It's a cooking membership, teaching people how to do that. There are so many resources on YouTube. You can also just search for whole food plant-based on YouTube. But Kathleen, you have resources, you have a book that you've written, you have your Facebook group, which I love your Facebook group.

There are tons of resources, but you have now entered what you don't know you don't know, and you’re starting to take it in and go okay, now I'm realizing that I don't know that there's this whole world of delicious foods that are so healing to my body that I don't even know how great I could feel one month from now.

Photo by Alexandra Andersson on Unsplash

[01:01:57] Kathleen Gage: You're bringing up some really good points because there's a huge difference between being vegan and being plant-based. It's interesting because in one Facebook group that I belonged to, there was a big argument that some vegans were attacking plant-based eaters saying you eat meat, and I said “No, I actually don't. I'm 100% whole food plant-based. That means the elimination of all meat.” Now, in theory, and ethically, I am a vegan. I mean I don't eat any animal products. When I buy shoes, I make sure it's not leather. I am looking at all the different aspects of what it means to be vegan, but as far as the eating, it is whole food plant-based, which means as close to nature as possible. A lot of beans, a lot of legumes, a lot of greens, and a lot of fruits.

One of the best books for anybody just starting out would be Joel Furman's book Eat To Live because he really outlines it. Then there's the whole discussion of do you eat oil, do you not eat oil? I choose the non-SOS, which is no added sugar, no added salt, no added oil—processed oil. I eat nuts, I eat avocados. I think that we have to give ourselves permission to make mistakes on it, whatever you consider a mistake because I have to say that sometimes, I do fall victim to my craving for salt. It's so interesting, it's like anything.

For me, if I ever took a drink again, I have no idea where it would take me, and I don't want to find out because I've had people say don't you think you could have one drink? It's like I don't know and I don't care. I just know that when I did drink—I probably quit dozens of times. Every time that I went back to it, it was worse than the time before, so I'm not willing to mess with bait. It's the same with the foods that I eat. This is what I need to do for me. I think that people need to choose what's right for them. What it all boils down to is what's the quality of life that you want? What's the quality of life that you want to give your children? What's the quality of life that you want to give your relationship?

It's not really about what's right or wrong, it's really about what is the quality of life that you deserve to have so that you can have the vibrancy, the focus, the balancing of moods, and just the energy to live fully. Because I got to tell you, there's something really exciting when I go out on a run, and I think to myself, I'm a senior citizen. When I got my Medicare, it was like yeah, that's pretty cool. Because that's not what I thought it would feel like. I remember when I was on the phone with Social Security doing all the stuff around Medicare, I was joking with the kid on the phone. I was telling him what I did that day for a run, what I eat, and all that. He goes, “I wish everybody was like you.” It's like, “Oh well, I'm trying.”

I'm trying with my blog, with my Facebook group, with my books, and I'm working on another book that's going to go up on Amazon. It's going to probably be called Discover the Real Fountain of Youth. But it is about the quality of life that people want, and what are you willing to do to get that? I remember when I quit drinking, I had a sponsor who said to me, “You have to want to be sober more than you want that drink, it's that simple.” Sometimes, we complicate the whole issue of health and vibrancy, and it doesn't have to be that complicated. It's very, very simple. What are we willing to put into our bodies to honor our bodies to give us the life that we deserve?

[01:05:42] Ashley James: So beautiful. You're 66 now?

[01:05:49] Kathleen Gage: Well, next month. In May I’ll be 66.

[01:05:50] Ashley James: You're 65, you're turning 66, you can just get up in the morning, and you can run a few miles. It doesn't hurt you to run a few miles. It makes you feel great.

[01:06:07] Kathleen Gage: I love it.

[01:06:08] Ashley James: That's something that so many people in their 60s can't do right now. That they don't have the health even to just get up and run 3-5 miles. There are people who are younger than you who can't run 3-5 miles a day and feel healthy. You started running before you went plant-based.

[01:06:34] Kathleen Gage: I did, I did.

[01:06:35] Ashley James: Tell me how soon did you notice a difference in your running after going whole food plant-based?

[01:06:43] Kathleen Gage: Within days. It was so incredible how quickly I noticed that the inflammation left. That was initially why I started a plant-based diet. I had inflammation in my right hand, and as a writer, that was limiting me. Then I noticed it in my recovery time, so almost immediately. What's interesting with the whole issue of health, if you look at the people that are being most compromised by the COVID situation, the ones who are at highest risk are the ones who have diabetes, heart disease, they have high blood pressure, the obesity issue. There's a lot of reasons why people are dealing with complications, and so much of it has to do with their nutrition.

For me, the change was so rapid. It was almost unbelievable. I was like could it really have happened that quickly? I just steadily noticed improvements. I sometimes look at myself now and I go wow. I'll look at my bone structure and the toneness of my body, I didn't expect that kind of a result. It seems like I'm getting healthier and healthier every single day.

[01:07:58] Ashley James: It would be cool to do bone scans every year and see it—

[01:08:03] Kathleen Gage: I’ve had it done, I've had it done. When you get to 65 they do it automatically. My doctor said, “Your bone scan is great.” I have a very, very good bone structure—and what is it?

[01:08:18] Ashley James: The density?

[01:08:19] Kathleen Gage: Density, yes, yes.

[01:08:21] Ashley James: I've heard that people on a whole food plant-based diet can reverse osteopenia and osteoporosis, especially because you've got the vitamins and the minerals—it's so dense like the vitamin K. There's a lot more that goes into building bones than just taking a calcium supplement. We need the vitamin K, we need the microbiome, and we need to do the physical exercise like running, walking, or any kind where there's an impact on the resistance and impact going back to the bones—stimulating the bones. What you're doing sounds like a formula for the fountain of youth, I love it.

[01:09:11] Kathleen Gage: I do resistance training too. Right now, I don't have the availability of the gym. I was going to the gym probably four days a week, and I was running four or five days a week. Here's the thing that I really noticed that blew me away, Ashley, is that when the gyms were open, I would go to the gym in the morning, and then I'd run in the afternoon because I had so much energy. The first time I did it if was like that was pretty cool. Then I did it again and I'm like this is bizarre. I have so much energy, that I had a great day in my office, and now I'm out doing a run after I worked out for an hour this morning, that's bizarre.

[01:09:50] Ashley James: Have you always been able to fall asleep easily at night, wake up, and jump out of bed in the morning, or did that change when you went plant-based?

[01:10:01] Kathleen Gage: It's interesting because I have bizarre sleep patterns. I fall asleep instantly, that's something that I do—my head hits the pillow, I'm out. But I tend to get up early like I got up at 4:00 AM this morning, and that's just the way my body is. I like to get up early because I have that quiet time in the morning where I meditate, I do yoga, I watch some inspirational video—usually, it's from Eckhart Tolle or could be Wayne Dyer, or Gregg Braden, but I'd like to fill my mind and my body with healthy things. When I first went plant-based, I was sleeping a lot deeper, but with a lot of what's going on right now, energetically, I just feel like I've been picking up a lot so I get up.

I don't stress over it because a lot of people say aren't you worried about that? No, actually I'm not. I do something productive with that time, and by productive, it's not necessarily working, but it's doing something internal that gets me centered and balanced.

[01:11:06] Ashley James: Stressing about it and worrying about it is not going to change it.

[01:11:09] Kathleen Gage: No, not at all.

[01:11:10] Ashley James: I'm not saying to become an ostrich and bury your head in the sand. Again, distraction is destructive, and following your passions is constructive, but at the same time, focusing on all the things to worry about is not going to change them. Focusing on what you have control over is going to change your life. I can never affect politics by worrying about them. I can never affect the planet by worrying about it, but I can follow my passion and focus on what I can control right now.

I can control what I eat, I can control the food that comes into my house and how I nourish my family, I can control how I move my body, I can go for a walk, I can go garden outside, I can do things in the house, I can read a book, so I can control that, I can do the podcasts, I can get on social media and connect with other people, I can help people from my home, and I can connect with them, but worrying about it is not going to help it.

I teach, actually, this whole course on how to eliminate anxiety since 2005 because I'm a master practitioner trainer of neuro-linguistic programming. I teach people how to eliminate anxiety because there's a mechanism in the brain that turns anxiety on and you could turn it off. What I say to people when I'm teaching this, I say, “We often think we're preparing, but we're not preparing, we're lamenting.” I live in a zone where there's a high probability that one day we'll have a major earthquake—just outside of Seattle.

For years, the media loves to fear monger. When's the big earthquake? It's going to be 9.0, we're all going to die. The whole Pacific Northwest is going to fall into the ocean. They love saying these things and getting people all ramped up. If you have anxiety around it you're not preparing, you're lamenting. Some people go I have to prepare. Listen, preparing is going down the list of what should I have? I should have a family plan, okay, we've covered the family plan. I should have emergency supplies, know how to turn off the gas in the house, know the basics of first aid, just all the things you should know to best prepare for any emergency, and then you stop thinking about it, you turn it off and you move on with your life, but we don't. 

We lament, we stay up at night worrying about and imagining these worst-case scenarios, which is sending signals to the body that we’re under threat, and that's turning on the stress response and creating anxiety. It's actually causing physical harm to the body and weakening the immune system. When we focus on things we're afraid of—because everyone's sitting there going what if I'm going to get COVID, what if my grandma gets COVID, oh my gosh, what if, what if, what if, what if, what if?

[01:14:17] Kathleen Gage: What if, what if, what if, what if. Dr. Greger wrote a book years ago How To Not Die From A Pandemic. When he first wrote it they said you're crazy. He has the healthy dozen, whatever he calls it. He said he had a dozen steps of how to prepare for a pandemic: rubber gloves, masks, sanitizer, and on and on. He said back then, nobody wanted to publish the book, read the book, and now, they're coming to him and saying what do we do?

It's interesting because I was certified in NLP in 1994. Suzy Smith and Tim Holburn were my instructors in Salt Lake City. Today, when I was running, I was tapping into, in my mind, I was like, okay, what's my strategy for running long? What's my strategy for enjoying running? I was just going through this process of how do I most enjoy this? When we can find the strategy for feeling good, we can model that, and we can replicate it. 

One of the quickest ways to ruin our day is to switch between CNN and Fox News. It's like an equal opportunity. Watch both of them. The other day, Karen said to me, “What are the numbers today?” I said, “I haven't got a clue. I've been busy watching Eckhart Tolle. I don't want to know,” because I already know we have the situation, and I also know that there's a really good chance I'm not going to be impacted by the disease directly because I eat healthily. If I get it, I'm not going to run into the complications, most likely. 

Dr. Joel Fuhrman talks about that. He says, “I'm not worried about the epidemic. The pandemic is not going to hurt me because I eat so healthy,” but we still have to respect the boundaries of other people like the people that we could impact. I do respect the physical distancing, I do respect wearing the masks now when I go out in public, and I do respect the fact that I wash my hands. There are certain things that I do that it's out of respect for other people. It's not because I'm afraid of getting the disease. You're right, we could sit there and just really mess with our head by saying what if this happens, what if that happens. Instead of saying what if the bad happens, well what if the good happens? What if I can come up with a new idea in my business that turns my business around like never before? Those are the what-ifs that we should be focusing on.

[01:16:49] Ashley James: I love it, I love it. It's like you have a boat with leaks in it. Notice the areas where the leaks are, and the leaks are places in your life where fear, fear-mongering, and anxiety are leaking into your life. Where things that are disempowering, it might be relationships, it might be the news outlets, it might be your own obsessive thoughts. We can switch our thoughts. It does take practice, but catching it and becoming aware is the first step. The first step to recovering from alcoholism is admitting that you have a problem, admitting your alcoholic, and becoming aware of it. 

The first step to cleaning up your life going from avoidance and distraction, which is destructive into focusing on building a life you love full of your passions is finding the areas. Maybe we should journal this. Write it down, where the leaks in my life that are leaking, that are leaking fear into my life, that are triggering fear and anxiety into my life, and what can I do to follow my passions instead of the distractions? I feel so deeply for those who are suffering at this time. I know that people are suffering, I know that people have lost jobs, they’re in economic despair. 

I have one friend, about a month ago, went into quarantine. He said, “I have $35 to my name and I don't know how I'm going to eat.” There are people in despair, and I feel for them. Absolutely. I want everyone to get out of this better regardless of where you are, I want everyone to come out of this empowered and an even better person. Regardless of where we are, we have the ability to, as you said, we can go internally. We have the ability to build ourselves up whether it's making the different food choices, whether it's taking in different information, turning some information off, and taking in good information. Follow Kathleen's Facebook group, I love it.

We're of course going to have all the links to everything that Kathleen Gage does in the show notes of today's podcast including her Facebook group. Following outlets like this podcast, you mentioned some great inspirational people that we can follow, follow that and fill yourself up with the richness of personal growth and development, and find the cracks in your life that bring in misery, that bring in anxiety, and fill those cracks so they don't bring that in anymore. 

I have been really enjoying my time in quarantine. I know that sounds weird because I also very dearly miss—I miss going out. I miss the freedom, and I'm really looking forward to this being over, but I have been thoroughly enjoying it. I'm an extrovert so keeping me at home is not fun, but I've been enjoying it because, in times of restriction, restriction increases creativity—if you let it. If you choose to have it, restriction increases creativity.

I was just talking about this in a different interview that Dr. Seuss wrote his number one best-selling book—I think it's the number one best-selling children's book Green Eggs and Ham—because he was given the restriction. It was a challenge that he was given by his publisher to take the 50 most common sight words and only write an entire book using the 50 most common sight words, and he did it. He wrote a creative book. You don't feel like he was restricted at all, but he sat there in that restriction and it made him more creative.

We’re squeezed in a vice, and hopefully, we’ll come out as diamonds. We're squeezed under the pressure of this current situation, and I hope that we can take these restrictions and find the ability to become even more creative, resourceful, and grow. This is a perfect, perfect opportunity to change our diets. We're not eating out at restaurants. I guess you could go out and take out and bring it home, but you could also go to the grocery store, fill your cart with plants, come home, learn how to cook a whole food plant-based diet, and take the next few weeks to nourish your body.

Regardless of what your family members choose to do, you could choose to be an example. Like my friend Naomi, she chose to go whole food plant-based, and then her family started following suit, but she didn't force it upon them. She just said, “I'm eating this way, I'm doing the cooking in the house. If you're going to eat meat you can choose to go do your own cooking or go elsewhere, but this is how I'm eating,” and they really enjoyed it. If they didn't like it, they could go to the fridge, and get something else because she was eating for her health.

Healthy boundaries, using food as our medicine and also choosing this time to do more personal growth and development. That we can build ourselves up and become even better people when we leave this quarantine, we could become even better people. I know listeners are going to be listening to this episode even years from now, and this will be like a historic event. At any point in your life, you can choose to turn it around and make the life you've already had, make your past mean something, make the suffering you've had mean something.

Like Kathleen, you took those years where you suffered as an alcoholic, you turned it around, you made that suffering mean something, you learned from it, and you've now helped thousands of people to build a life they love because you teach them how to become better entrepreneurs, how to become heart-centered businessmen and women, and you've been doing that for many years.

I definitely want to talk about your program for those who are interested in learning how to gain clients through marketing themselves through a podcast, because I think that's very relevant. Obviously, we're on a podcast so it's very relevant.

[01:23:21] Kathleen Gage: Very relevant, yeah. I'd love to talk, if I may, about the quarantine and what a blessing that is because I think of people like Anne Frank that she and her family were confined to an attic and out of that came a masterpiece book. Just incredible because she had no choice. Man's Search for Meaning, a prisoner in Auschwitz that out of that experience, he has impacted millions of people with a book. A lot of people are looking at this as such a restriction instead of saying how can I grow from this? I have to say, I agree with you that this whole quarantine and being restricted, if you call it a restriction, to me it's a blessing.

I'm finding things to do that—even little projects around the house. I encourage people to look at one little project, even cleaning a drawer out, doing it, and then having a sense of completion. Because if you just sit and you worry about the fact that you can't do anything, you're doing that to yourself, it's not being done to you. I also really want to acknowledge the healthcare workers, the people on the front line. They're the heroes. They're the real heroes.

A friend of mine posted the other day on Facebook and said, “The people I want to see on the red carpet are the nurses and doctors. I don't want to see movie stars anymore. I want to see the real heroes,” and I agree with that because they're there answering a call, so I want to acknowledge that. I want to acknowledge the people that right now, like your friend, who had $35 to his name. That's a tough place to be in, and that's where we get to ask for help, that's where we get to extend the help and offer to help other people. There might be elderly people in your area that, for the people listening, maybe somebody who you don't know needs a helping hand.

Go visit your neighbors, when we can, and just see if there's anything that they need. There are plenty of groups on social media where you can reach out to people in your immediate area and say does anybody need groceries? I have an elderly couple I've been communicating with and so far, they haven't asked for any help but I've extended the help. I have no idea who they are, never met them other than on social media. The woman initially was telling me so much stuff that was too personal. 

She was telling me where they live, that her husband just had a hip replacement, and on and on and on. I said, “Okay, I need to stop you. I want to give you some advice that I think is going to help you. Don't give so much information away to a stranger. I said, “I'm a nice person. I'm not going to bring you harm, but you never know. There are scammers out there so I called to protect you in this.” I said, “We'll keep in touch with each other. If you ever need me to run to the store for you I'm here for you, I'll be happy to do it.” She goes, “Well, how will I compensate you? I said, “What do you mean?” She goes, “Well, how will I pay you for your time?” I said, “You won't. That's my gift to you.”

I think there are plenty of things that we can do, one is if we need help to ask for help. If we have the ability to help somebody else, go buy groceries for somebody because they may need your help. This is a time for us to all step up to the plate, but as far as like in business, the big thing that I'm focusing on right now is either teaching people how to go out and find podcast opportunities where they can share their message.

I teach them how do you find the right podcast, how do you reach out to a host, how do you prepare your marketing materials so that when they say I need your bio, I need your introduction, I need your headshot, you have all of that ready, and how to get over the fear of the microphone. Because what always amazes me, Ashley, are the people who have a great message, but they get in their own way. They're so afraid of making a mistake that they never make an attempt to reach out to a host. I have one client, love her dearly, she is amazing. She had a stroke six years ago, wrote a book about it, it's called Stroke Forward, and she hired me to teach her how to get on podcast shows.

I remember the first show that she got on, she goes, “Well, what if I make mistakes?” I said, “You probably will and that's okay because it just shows that you're human.” She was so concerned about that first show. She did it, she calls me up, and she goes, “That was so much fun. I want to do it again.” In a matter of 2-3 months, she was on 25 shows. I gave her a strategy. I said, “Here's what you do. Here's how you reach out to the host. Here's how you find the shows.” We went through the whole process of finding shows on iTunes, on Blog Talk Radio, and all sorts of opportunities.

She started reaching out, and I said, “Don't worry if you don't hear back from people. Just reach out again because they may not have gotten your first message.” Now, she can't get enough of it. One day I was talking to her and she goes, “I'm so disappointed. I don't have anything booked for this week.” I said, “Well, get off your rear end and start reaching out,” and she did and she got two shows booked. She did exactly what I asked her to do. Where I've had other people that I give them the strategy and they go months and months and months without doing anything but research and fine-tuning. I had one person that kept fine-tuning their one sheet. It's like okay enough already, your one-sheet is good. Go out and take a risk of being told no.

What people find is that once they get over the fear of the microphone, all they have to do is be themselves. This conversation that we've had, it's been a delightful conversation. I'm not trying to be perfect because I can't be perfect, I can only be me, and I bring my experience to the call. That's what I encourage people to do when they're looking for shows. For those who want to start a show, let's look at the time involved, what it takes to find the right platform, are you going to do video, are you going to do audio, do you have the time, are you disciplined enough, do you need to bring in a support person? What needs to happen in order for you to start a show, but if you've got an important message, you owe it to the market to put your message out there.

There are so many amazing people that I work with. I work with a lot of people that are into health and fitness, into spiritual topics. I work with one woman who wrote a book called The Food Codes and it's all about intuitive eating. I so love working with people who are clear on the fact that what they have to say is going to make a difference in people's lives.

[01:29:56] Ashley James: I love it. I know, as I said, I've been following you, I've been learning from you. I was actually in one of your webinars I think about a year ago or just under a year ago because you had just gone plant-based and you were teaching about how to get on people's podcasts. When people ask me advice, should they start a podcast? There's so much work that goes into a podcast. Once you have momentum it's a little easier, but there's so much work that goes into it. Then to build up an audience, there's a ton of work. If you have a message, I think it's even better to just get on other people's podcasts because you're leveraging their audience. You're bringing value, you're leveraging their audience, so it’s a little bit of a harder road if you launch your own podcast.

When I set out to do the Learn True Health podcast, I told myself that I wouldn't quit until I had published 800—and I'm not saying I'm going to quit. I'm just saying that—

[01:31:09] Kathleen Gage: Don’t quit, no, no, no.

[01:31:10] Ashley James: I’m not quitting, I’m not quitting, but I said to myself, I'm not even going to entertain the thought of stopping until I have 800 episodes. Of course, if I had gotten into this and no one was listening, I had no listeners, I'd have to reevaluate. But for me, I know that podcasting is not a short-term thing, it's like growing a garden. It’s long-term, you invest a ton of time into it, and you invest years into it to grow the podcast and to grow a community. It's something that takes time, whereas you can get out there tomorrow.

If you have a message, if you're a health coach and you have a message, maybe you have written a book, or maybe you have a blog, or you have a membership, or you want to take on more clients, you can get out tomorrow and be on someone's show and you're leveraging their audience. You're creating value because you're teaching, you're bringing information to their audience, and you potentially will get followers and clients, and you keep doing it over and over again rinse and repeat. You're going to eventually build up your own audience and then launch a podcast. Kathleen teaches that.

[01:32:23] Kathleen Gage: Yes.

[01:32:25] Ashley James: We're going to have, actually, your whole course on how to do that. We made the link easy learntruehealth.com/powerup, that’s learntruehealth.com/powerup, and of course, all the links will be in the show notes of today's podcast at learntruehealth.com. You have this wonderful program for that, and then you also have this separate thing, although you said they're merging together. I love that your passion for helping people is always heart-centered. That you’re ethically focused on helping entrepreneurs who are ethical, who are heart-focused.

Sometimes when people hear the word entrepreneur or profits, they think of this cutthroat industry where we're going to do whatever we can to get money out of people, and it's very unethical and very shady. That's the Hollywood version of it, but really, the type of people that you work with and that you coach are the wonderful beautiful people who genuinely want to help their followers and help their clients. That's why I love that you're moving towards merging how you teach also around the plant-based world. Tell us what that's going to look like for the rest of 2020 and moving into years to come. What does this look like?

[01:33:57] Kathleen Gage: Yeah, that's a hard one to answer especially in light of the fact that I am a professional speaker. A lot of how I've built my business is going out into a community and being on the platform. Well, that's on hold right now so it's looking at all the online resources available, but it's going to be the coaching, the consulting. For people who maybe want to start a business, I can consult with them. The whole issue of the money side of it, the more money that you make the more good you can do in the world. We do a lot of animal rescue. Our business has supported many, many animals as a result. They show up on our property, as we were talking about before we started this conversation.

I'm working on a book right now. It's a lot of what I've been doing in my business for 26 years that's just being married over into the plant-based world. But one of the things I wanted to point out for people that are looking for opportunities, and I'm in 100% agreement with you that it's a good idea to start by getting on other people shows. Start with shows that our smaller shows, that they’re really in need of an expert like you, and make sure that it's a match. For example, on my plant-based show, if somebody is not 100% whole food plant-based, they don't come on my show. That's what the platform is about. I want people from all walks of life that they subscribe to a plant-based lifestyle. Maybe they're a business owner, maybe they're a mom that's raising kids that are plant-based, whatever it may be.

I had somebody contact me the other day, and they tried to make it fit. I said, “Are you 100% plant-based?” They said, “No, but…” and I said, “Oh no. There are no buts. I don't want you on my show. It's not that I don't think you're a good person, I just don't want you on my show.” Then I had a woman that contacted me and she said, “I listen to some of your episodes, I went to your website, this is what I do. I'm 100% plant-based, I'd love to talk about being on your show.” I said, “Okay,” everything I've read so far, I went to her website, I looked at it, wrote her back, I said, “You're on.” That's all it took was for her to be a good match.

When you look for opportunities, make sure that it is a match for what your message is, and there are plenty of opportunities. I think there's like a million podcast shows now, but what you want to do is look and make sure that they have current episodes, and there are things that I teach my clients how to find out if somebody's current. Because if somebody hasn't had an episode for two or three years, reaching out to them probably is not going to be the thing that's going to get them to say oh gosh, now I need to have my show again. But if they, once a week, once a month but it's consistent then, reach out to them, but don't expect them to say yes right away.

I had this happen recently where two people reached out to me, I never got their messages. I'm so grateful that they reached out again, both of them like on the same day. This was really bizarre. Individually, they said, “Oh, I reached out to you and I haven't heard back. I'm just wondering, would I be a good fit for your show?” It's like, “Thank goodness you reached out again.” Because a lot of times people will reach out, they don't get an immediate yes, and they figure they don't want to interview me. It may have nothing to do with that. Right now, people are in a lot of confusion, people's businesses may be struggling and they're trying to figure it out, so work with them, and bring value to the experience. It's not about them serving you, it's about you serving their market.


Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash

[01:37:33] Ashley James: I love it. Yeah. Definitely don't bother contacting a podcast that doesn't have a new episode that's been at least two months. If I don't publish three a week I feel guilty. I try to do three a week, but it's between one and two a week most of the time. Sometimes I get three episodes a week. If someone hasn’t published one in months, they're probably not a full-time podcaster and have moved on. Also, I almost never reply to the first email. 

I get solicited to dozens and dozens of emails every day—solicited to be on the show. I almost never reply to the first one, it’s just I'm busy. I see that they've written to me every day, hey, I just want to make sure you got my email. I finally click through and then I'll write them back and let them know whether I want them on the show or not. People are welcome to ask, it's just that you've got to be persistent because there are some people that will write me five times and then I'll go oh my gosh, thank you for writing the fifth time. I just saw your email pop-up. I missed the other ones because I get so many of them.

[01:38:50] Kathleen Gage: Yeah. We get busy. Another thing is if you're an author, be willing to send a copy of your book to the host and just ask them, may I send you a copy of my book? How would you like it? Would you like the physical copy or the PDF? I had one client that wanted to charge the host for her book. I said, “If you do that, you will never get on a show. Why in the world would you charge somebody for your book?” It's like no, no, no, no, no. You got to learn that this is all part of your visibility strategy, but really, it is about just bringing as much value, and it's not going on in overtly selling stuff.

I've had some people that want to go on, and well, I'm going to promote my book the whole time. That's a mistake. You want to create value, and if you create enough value, people will want to get your book. I think you asked me a question and I completely sidestepped the question. I don't even remember what it was, but I'll blame it on age.

[01:39:45] Ashley James: No, no. I tend to throw three different questions at someone because I get so excited. I'm like what about this and what about this? I let the guest pick and choose what they wanted to answer. It's a casual conversation, and we go back and forth. It's all good. I want to just take your brain and empty it out for all of us to just learn from you, just empty your whole brain out to us. I did want to know more about what you're doing in the plant-based world and what it's going to look like—merging your passion around plant-based eating. Now, you take on clients as a health coach because you have your certification through eCornell.

You've been a coach with many hats for many years like you said in the 90s, you became certified in NLP. You have coached people from an entrepreneurial standpoint, from personal growth and development standpoint, and now, from a health and wellness standpoint. It's been separate from your business and now they're coming together. What does it look like teaching people how to market themselves on podcasts or launch your own podcast, how to market yourself, and then also the plant-based world? You told us about your wonderful podcast, which is really cool so that's a great resource, and then your Facebook group, but what does it look like moving forward to merge those two together?

[01:41:18] Kathleen Gage: It's kind of interesting because what I'm noticing, I don't call myself a health coach per se, I'm not going to sit there and create menus for somebody. That's not my passion. My passion is helping them to live fully in whatever expression that happens to take form in. What I'm noticing is many of the clients that before I started focusing on plant-based eating, they were meat-eaters, and now they're plant-based eaters. They said, “I've been following your advice,” and I'm like, “Oh, really?” We have an even deeper connection, but what's just so exciting is that as I trained somebody how to find podcast opportunities, I use my plant-based podcast show as an example.

I'm able to integrate it in saying okay, I've got this plant-based podcast show that I started probably on that 1-2 months ago. I started my PowerUp show in 2014. I did about 125 episodes in about 8 months, burn myself out, I pod-faded for about 5 years, started it up again, pod-faded again, and then about probably 6 months ago then I got serious about it again because I love that platform for business topics per se.

With my plant-based show, I'm using that as an example of how to grow a podcast show, and that one's growing very quickly. I've gotten some nice position on iTunes, I'm getting some amazing guests, I'm going to be interviewing Dr. Pamela Popper—who is very controversial in the plant-based movement and especially now with COVID-19, and I'm just getting some incredible people on there. I want to have you on, Ashley, for sure.

[01:43:03] Ashley James: I’d love that.

[01:43:05] Kathleen Gage: Absolutely. What I'm doing is I'm actually growing that show, and I'm growing that market. Just through organic means, I'm merging that over into the entrepreneurial world, and entrepreneurs are grabbing hold of it and saying maybe I should try this plant-based eating. So without forcing it, they're becoming plant-based, but as far as being a coach for people going plant-based, that's not my passion. My passion is entrepreneurs who have a big message that wants to take it out into the world but I want them to be aligned with their message. If they say that they love animals, let's see how true that is.

[01:43:49] Ashley James: Awesome, very cool. When we follow our ethics, when we follow our hearts, and when we have our business be an alignment with our values, it allows us to become niche—niche down. You can attract the right clientele, that you'll have a more meaningful and rich relationship with your clientele because you niche down and you're serving them in a way that aligns with their values as well. If someone is Christian or Catholic and they're really, really passionate about that, then incorporate that into your business and serve your community. If you're in the LGTBQ community, serve that community. Find your community. For me, the whole food plant-based, I'm very passionate about it.

It's okay to niche down, serve that community, and also educate people. We have to bring tolerance and love because there's a lot of misunderstanding. There are people who have been raised to believe that we need to kill animals, eat them, and survive, and that that's the best thing for humans. I've met some people who were vegetarian, they became sick, and they started eating meat, and then they became better, so then they associate meat with health. I don't want to bring any shame or any guilt, there are some people who are just not ready and they get turned off by this message.

I've had people write me emails that say that they don't want to listen to the shows that have plant-based messages, and I've equally been sent emails by listeners who say that they won't listen to shows that talk about meat. I can't win, I can't please everyone, but what I can do is ask that we have an open mind. My biggest homework is to eat more plants. Maybe you're not ready to try going 100% meatless and going 100% whole food plant-based—eat more plants. Eat more plants, eat more plants, eat more plants.

Crowd out your plate—I learned this from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. The founder of it, he talks about how as a health coach, we're not telling people don't eat this, don't eat this, don't eat this, don't eat this, and all of a sudden well what can I eat? We tell them what to eat a lot of. Eat a variety of colors of vegetables, crowd out your plate. If you fill up on, and I learned this for Chef AJ, eat a pound of vegetables before you have the rest of the meal. That's about two and a half cups of broccoli, which is not that much—maybe for people who never eat vegetables.

Eat a pound of vegetables at breakfast. The first thing she eats in the morning, she steams some vegetables, which is very quick. It's very quick to steam vegetables, and she eats a pound of it. You could drizzle some delicious balsamic over it, fig balsamic, or maple balsamic. There are all kinds of delicious balsamic that taste like candy. You feel like you're eating candy. You feel like you're cheating, but you eat a pound of vegetables and then eat the rest of your meal. You can also do it in a form of a salad or raw if you wanted to, but eating a pound of vegetables and then eat your potato, or your brown rice, or your beans.

If you're choosing to eat meat, eat the meat last. Fill up on your plants first, and you'll notice that maybe you're not going to eat a 12-ounce steak, maybe you're only going to eat a 4-ounce steak. I'm just using that as an example that you'll feel full. Then try some meals with no meat like meat meatless Mondays, or no meat till 6:00 PM is another one.

I have a woman who joined—when we launched the Learn True Health Home Kitchen, she said to me right off the bat, “I will never,” and I've known her. She's been a Facebook friend. We’ve met through a different nutrition community, and she became a listener of the show since episode one. We talk very candidly to each other. She was, “I'll never go meatless. I live in the heart of America where we're meeting potatoes, that's all we eat. I can't ever see my family going meatless, but I'm going to join your membership because I want to learn how to eat more plants.” I said, “Great, that's fantastic. You don't have to go meatless.” But it's like the gateway to going whole food plant-based—could be just eating more vegetables and then noticing you actually like them.

In the first module of my course, I talk about to try the meatless Monday. Try one meal without meat because before doing this, I had never in my life eaten a meal without meat. It was amazing. It took a huge mindset shift to choose to eat a meal without meat because, in my mind, I didn't think you've had a meal until there was meat. Having a meal without meat was the most foreign thing to my body and the most foreign thing to my thinking. Just try one meal that's plants only, and it might be the most foreign thing to you but just try it, or try meatless Mondays where your whole family tries it as a fun experiment, or try no meat until 6:00 PM so your breakfast and lunch is a bunch of plants.

What she did was she filled up her fridge with vegetables, she started watching all the videos that we teach how to cook these different foods, and she started doing it with her family. She decided to do the no meat until 6:00 PM. She's like listen, “We're not going meatless, but we're just going to eat more plants.” I said, “Great.” Five days into it, she wrote a testimonial. It's in our Facebook group, but she wrote it, and I read it in one of our episodes. She said, “I'm five days in and my chronic headaches are gone. I took Advil almost every day. My chronic headaches are gone.” This is a woman who takes supplements and has eaten healthy for years because she reversed a major, major health condition with food, eating less junk food, and taking supplements.

She goes, “My chronic headaches are gone. I have more energy. I have significantly reduced my coffee intake, and I still have more energy.” She has three young kids in diapers. She goes, “I am actually falling asleep at night,” because she's been a night owl. She's on the East Coast and at midnight she'd be messaging me so I noticed she never gets sleep. She goes, “I'm actually feeling sleepy at night. I have energy during the day. My kids are eating vegetables they've never eaten before and liked it.” This was five days in to just choosing to do this one experiment where she was no meat for breakfast and lunch and eating more plants.

[01:51:04] Kathleen Gage: You just reminded me of one of the other things that changed. I used to get really severe headaches, and it was on the side of my head. I was in the dentist's chair about a year into eating plant-based, and I had to open my mouth because he was doing bridgework or whatever he was doing. For two hours my mouth was open and I got this headache and all of a sudden it hit me. I have not had a headache in over a year. It was something that I had grown accustomed to was having the headaches, and then when I switched to plant-based, the headaches disappeared, but I never connected the dots until I was sitting in the dentist's chair. That's another benefit.

I love what you say about just do what's appropriate for you because again, people will decide based on the quality of life they want. I know that sometimes with me, people ask about being plant-based, and when I share what I do and what I don't do, they're like I could never do that. I said, “Well, I'm not asking you to. You'd ask me what I do, I'm just going to share, and you'll do what you want to do. If you like your misery, go ahead and keep it, but there you go.” They say that in recovery. They say just try this for 30 days and if you want to go back to the way you were, we'll give you your misery back, no problem at all.

[01:52:30] Ashley James: Oh my gosh, I love it. I love it.

[01:52:33] Kathleen Gage: For me, I really am passionate about this, and I'm so grateful that I've had the opportunity to share my insights and what it's done for me because honestly, the quality of life that I get to experience today—I don't care how long I live, I just care about the quality of life I have. Because when my mom passed away, for two years, she had a really, really tough time after my dad died. She was a very unhealthy woman. She had a lot of chronic illnesses. I saw them literally take her away a piece at a time, her intestines, and she would go in for a surgery, they took another foot, and then another foot. That was her life. I didn't want to end my life that way. I want to have a quality that really gives me the passion to live fully each and every day, whatever that may mean to me. If it's working in my garden, great. If it's cooking a meal, if it's spending time with family, whatever it may mean, I just want to give it 100%.

[01:53:34] Ashley James: This way of eating and also this lifestyle you've set up—the getting up early and filling your body with inspirational food—with spiritual, with mental, and with emotional food. Then going for a run and also filling your body with plants, unprocessed foods, and avoid of all these chemicals out there. 80,000 chemicals have entered our bodies in the last 50 years. New chemicals that were man-made—man-made chemicals through air, through water, and through our food supply. There are chemicals that are legally allowed to be sprayed on our food, and in our food supply, they don't have to disclose it that are illegal in other countries. The entire European Union, there are whole batches of chemicals that are put in our food.

This is another one that really hit me, when you buy ice cream, which of course I don't buy ice cream, but when you buy ice cream—I make my scream at home. I make homemade ice cream, I know all the ingredients that go into it, it's absolutely delicious and nutritious, but the ice cream you buy in the store, when you read the ingredients, it doesn't say anything about food-grade antifreeze because it's industry standard. In the food industry, when you buy processed food, there are all kinds of chemicals that are in that food that they don't need to disclose.

If you buy a box of crackers, there are chemicals in your food they do not need to disclose is an ingredient because it's industry standard, it's used as an emulsifier, or used as some kind of agent, or it's one of the pesticides, it doesn't need to be in the ingredients. Just because something looks okay, these Cheerios looks okay. Sure, they also are full of glyphosate, which is a roundup. It's a key later that dumps heavy metals into your kidneys and into your brain.

I've had a Dr. Stephanie Seneff on the show twice. She's an MIT top research scientist. Her background is not in medicine, her background is research and understanding the numbers. She's gotten together with a team of MIT and other top Ph.D. research scientists who have brought together all the information around glyphosate. They could show the damage it does to the body. Of course, this is Monsanto and Bayer now fights this. They try to suppress the information, but these scientists, they're not making money doing this. She came on my show, she's not making a dime doing it. She's a whistleblower. She's trying to get the information out there.

Our food supply is tainted. We can't trust when we buy packaged food that it's clean. We need to buy organic as much as possible—organic locally grown. If it's not certified organic, get a local farmer, get a relationship with them, and learn that they do organic farming but they haven't paid the hundreds and thousands of dollars to become organically certified, or they're transitioning over because they think it's a five year period to transition over into becoming an organic farm.

We want to support those guys, those farmers as much as possible buying foods that are local, foods that are organic, or foods that are at least are void of the pesticides, and have your own garden if you can run, or get together with other people who have gardens. You grow broccoli, they grow potatoes, and you guys share. There are all kinds of things we can do, and we have to get creative and resourceful, but we can cut out these 80,000 chemicals that are in our environment. We can significantly reduce them, which is going to extend the quality of your life, and it's also going to extend your life itself.

I tell this story, and I'll be very brief. I was very sick. I had polycystic ovarian syndrome, type 2 diabetes, chronic adrenal fatigue, chronic infections for which I needed monthly antibiotics. I was told I was infertile and I'd never have kids. I was in my 20s, I was a prisoner of my own body—totally sick. The first health change I made was I went organic. I shopped the perimeter of the store so we ate less processed food, we didn't go 100% free of processed food, but we cut out some processed food, but we ate 100% organic.

After going 100% organic, within one month, my chronic infection stopped. I stopped needing to take antibiotics, and I turned around and I went that was the impact on my immune system that all of the chemicals that are on all of our food. Just going organic and eating less processed food made my chronic infection stopped, made my immune system not so taxed, and that was the beginning of my journey of getting my health back, of reversing these all these diseases. Now I don't have those diseases. Of course, we naturally conceived our child. We don't have any of those diseases, but that's the impact of just choosing less processed food and going organic.

[01:58:57] Kathleen Gage: Absolutely, and it's incredible. It is a journey because I remember when I was about 20 or 21 years old, I had endometriosis, and that's before they even had a name for it. That's 40 some odd years ago. They just did test after test after test, and one doctor wanted to do experimental surgery and open me up like completely open me up. My ex-husband was like—I think that's the only really good thing he did—he said, “Absolutely not. We'll find another doctor.” When we found a doctor that had just started learning about laparoscopy I think it's called where they went in through the navel and they put a microscope inside of me, he said, “You're filled with cysts.”

My mother-in-law, she said, “Do you think it's from the cheese that you're eating?” Because he was Hispanic and she was from Mexico, she did a lot of cooking with cheese. I said, “No. How can it be cheese?” That was before the cheese was even processed the way it is today. I thought of this probably a month ago about her comment, do you think it could have been the cheese? It could have been the cheese. Back then it was like absolutely not. It's a journey that we're on, and a lot of times people say I don't want to give up meat because I love the taste of meat.

I have to tell you, I love the taste of meat. We would have big meat meals, but when you look at the journey of where you started and where you go to when you start making these changes, it's incredible, and it is a journey. It's not something that just suddenly everything changes. For some of us, we are very black and white, but it's a journey of discovery. As I said, I did the bone broth diet, I've done the Atkins diet, I've done the Mediterranean diet, and I've done the starvation diet. When liquid protein was a big deal, and this was in my 20s, I literally, literally went three months without eating. I did liquid protein for three months, ended up in the hospital almost dead. They said the potassium was hardly even registering in my body. It was just a really, really critical situation.

That's how dramatic I was in the way that I would try to lose the weight instead of looking at a healthy lifestyle. That's what I love about the choices that I make today, being able to bring awareness and shine a light on a healthier way of living. This whole thing with the factory farms, I see it as a blessing because if we could get those farmers to go more into organic produce, oh my gosh, what a blessing that would be. There are a lot of blessings that are going on right now, and we just need to look at it that way.

Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

[02:01:37] Ashley James: I love it. You had mentioned earlier you don’t consider yourself a health coach because you don't make food plans for people.

[02:01:48] Kathleen Gage: It scares me, it scares me.

[02:01:50] Ashley James: I understand that.

[02:01:51] Kathleen Gage: I’m a sissy when it comes to that.

[02:01:53] Ashley James: It's funny, it’s funny. I'm a health coach, and I have to tell you that majority of health coaching is exactly what you do. Very little health coaching is making a food menu because most people won't follow a food menu. Most people, what they need is they need you to point them in the right direction. You could give them a list of some ideas, here are some recipes that are really great, or what kind of foods do you like? Would you like Mexican? Here are some plant-based versions. Most people don't want menus or food plans because it's too regimented, and they won't follow it long term. You want to teach them to fish instead of giving them the fish.

As a health coach, most health coaching is enlightening, is empowering, lifting them up, helping them to uncover their passion, helping them to find the resources so that they can make the best choices for themselves, and also then having an accountability partner. I think you're a health coach based on everything that you do.

[02:02:58] Kathleen Gage: I’ll take it, okay. I think because I didn't want to be boxed in on that's all I do because there's so much—I like to live by example. I like to show through example what's possible. As I said, I love to read and so when I read a good book I'm always posting about it. I like to share these resources. You know, I'll take it. If that's what being a health coach is, I'll take it.

[02:03:27] Ashley James: Awesome. I totally get it. We were of the era where no one's fitting into a box, there's no box anymore.

[02:03:35] Kathleen Gage: Absolutely. Well, now I got to go get new business cards. No, I’m just kidding.

[02:03:42] Ashley James: What is it called? Is it the Renaissance man? What is it when someone is a master of many hats?

[02:03:49] Kathleen Gage: Yeah, Renaissance and would it be bohemian too?

[02:03:53] Ashley James: Maybe, well we are. We're quite bohemian, aren't we?

[02:03:56] Kathleen Gage: Yes, absolutely.

[02:03:57] Ashley James: It's been such a pleasure having you on the show, exploring your world, and how what you do in the entrepreneurial space is also helping people to get their health back. You're also helping people who work in the health space, like health coaches and doctors who have a message, and they want to get their message out there. I know you've had several clients who teach raw vegan, which is such a niche, such a niche market. You have clients in this space and you help them to get their voice out there so they can get their books sold to more people, so they can get more clients. I know that about 20% of my listeners are in the holistic health space, many of my listeners are health coaches, Naturopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, even nurse practitioners who are also like health coaches in a sense.

There are many different roles, many different professions that my listeners are in, and many of them are in the entrepreneurial space who would love to grow their business. You teach us how to do that. Listeners can go to learntruehealth.com/powerup, and of course, the links to everything that Kathleen Gage does is going to be in the show notes of today's podcast at learntruehealth.com. It's been such a pleasure having you on the show. I can't wait to be on your show.

[02:05:19] Kathleen Gage: Let’s get that taken care of. This has been delightful. I've had such a great time. You're doing amazing things. I know you and Duffy with your son are just making a difference in the world, so I really appreciate all you're doing.

[02:05:35] Ashley James: Absolutely. Thank you. I want to make sure everyone knows, what's the name of your podcast?

[02:05:40] Kathleen Gage: It is Plant Based Eating for Health.

[02:05:43] Ashley James: Awesome. They could also search Kathleen Gage and probably find you as well in iTunes or whatever.

[02:05:49] Kathleen Gage: Yeah, a boatload of stuff.

[02:05:51] Ashley James: A buttload of stuff will come up.

[02:05:55] Kathleen Gage: A buttload or a boatload.

[02:05:59] Ashley James: Whichever you prefer, there's going to be a lot of it. Awesome. Kathleen, do you have any homework you'd like to give us to wrap up today's interview?

[02:06:09] Kathleen Gage: Yes, I do. What I would like people to do is sit down and describe your ideal life. What would your health be like, what would your family life be like, and what would your community be like, and start with your health? Based on that, what choices can you make that will get you closer to that decision? I did a visioning class about two years ago. I mapped out the kind of life I wanted to have, and it included so much about plant-based eating, and I didn't even realize it at the time, but I did a vision board. When I looked at that a few months later I was like oh my gosh, everything I put on this board has become a reality, including a new rescue dog.

We lost one of our dogs, and I put an image of the kind of dog I wanted. I had no clue that I even put it on there until I looked later. We have Roxy now who is just spitting image of what was on that vision board. I would say, sit down and really convene with yourself, come to a place of honoring who you are meant to be, and then take the action from there.


[02:07:17] Ashley James: I love it, such great advice. Awesome. Thank you so much, Kathleen Gage, for coming on the show. I can't wait to have you back on the show at a later date. Keep coming back and sharing with us, and also, I can't wait to be on your show. It's going to be a lot of fun.

[02:07:31] Kathleen Gage: Absolutely. Thank you, Ashley.

[02:07:33] Ashley James: I hope you enjoyed today's interview. Please go to these two links today, one is learntruehealth.com/powerup for the free goodies that Kathleen Gage is giving you, and go to learntruehealth.com/homekitchen to get the free tour, and check out the membership site that I created for you with all these wonderful recipes and healing information so you can walk into the kitchen and use your kitchen to support your body's ability to heal itself. Delicious recipes that support you and your family in optimal health. Learntruehealth.com/homekitchen. I hope to see you there.

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Ashley James

Health Coach, Podcast Creator, Homeschooling Mom, Passionate About God & Healing

Ashley James is a Holistic Health Coach, Podcaster, Rapid Anxiety Cessation Expert, and avid Whole Food Plant-Based Home Chef. Since 2005 Ashley has worked with clients to transform their lives as a Master Practitioner and Trainer of Neuro-linguistic Programming.

Her health struggles led her to study under the world’s top holistic doctors, where she reversed her type 2 diabetes, PCOS, infertility, chronic infections, and debilitating adrenal fatigue.

In 2016, Ashley launched her podcast Learn True Health with Ashley James to spread the TRUTH about health and healing. You no longer need to suffer; your body CAN and WILL heal itself when we give it what it needs and stop what is harming it!

The Learn True Health Podcast has been celebrated as one of the top holistic health shows today because of Ashley’s passion for extracting the right information from leading experts and doctors of holistic health and Naturopathic medicine


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